After weight loss surgery, cooking bariatric recipes for one can feel challenging. Trying to cook “regular” sized recipes can leave you with a ton of waste if there’s no one else around to eat what’s left. Leading a healthy lifestyle after bariatric surgery requires time and effort to plan recipes ahead of time, and might start to feel like a wasteful chore.
Whether you’re in the beginning or middle of your post-op journey, below are some tips and recipes to give you new inspiration when cooking for one.
12 Tips for Cooking Bariatric Recipes for One
Try some of the tips below to make healthy, bariatric-friendly meals that require minimal time and effort.
Use your toaster oven
I love using my toaster oven for smaller meals. It heats up quickly and does not make a huge mess. The simpler the clean up the more likely I will cook. This simple sheet pan rosemary chicken can easily be reduced in size and cooked in your toaster oven.
Reheat in your meal prep container
One of the best cooking-for-one-hacks is reheating leftovers directly in their meal prep container. You can either reheat in the toaster oven or the microwave and save on dishes. When you store your leftovers in your meal prep containers, make sure to include your protein, veggie and healthy carb (optional) to make reheating fast and simple.
Cooking for one may mean making smaller portion sizes, but that doesn’t mean the final product should be lacking in nutrients. Nutrition is the number one priority after bariatric surgery. When planning your meals for one, make sure to incorporate high quality protein sources every time.
Meal planning is a great habit to practice during any season of life and can be especially helpful after weight loss surgery. We’ve all had those days where it’s time to eat, but all we can seem to do is walk back and forth through the kitchen, opening the fridge and pantry doors unable to decide what to make.
By setting aside time to create a meal plan for the week ahead, you can save yourself time, effort, and frustration later on. When making a meal plan, it can help to prepare a calendar so you know exactly what you’re eating. If you need to go to the store, you can then easily make a list from this.
Stock your kitchen with bariatric staples.
Keeping your kitchen stocked with nutrient-dense foods can help ensure that you’re always putting nutrition first. Protein-rich foods like chicken breast, salmon, tofu, tuna, eggs, and beans can be stored in the fridge, freezer, and pantry for easy access.
Dry whole grains, nut butters, canned soups, pasta sauce, unsweetened applesauce, salsa, frozen fruits and veggies, and yogurt can all be used in a variety of ways to make a quick and easy meal.
Make enough for leftovers.
Just because you’re cooking for one doesn’t mean you can’t make multiple meals at one time. Using your meal plan, you can plan ahead to make 4-6 servings of the same meal if it’s something that would keep well in the freezer. That way, you can make everything at once and then divide it into individual servings that can be pulled out when needed. This can prevent you from having to cook something new every day. Some good examples of freezer-friendly meals are low carb casseroles, soups, and stews.
Keep it simple.
Bariatric recipes need to provide adequate post-op nutrition, but that doesn’t mean they have to be complicated. Cooking for one can feel mundane if you’re always making the same things, so it can also help to make variety a priority. This will become easier with the more meals you make, especially if you keep track of what you’ve made and liked. That way, you can slowly create a collection of good recipes to choose from and rotate.
My recipe page provides lots of inspiration for simple meals that can work well, even for one.
Collect your favorites.
When you make something especially delicious, make it easy for yourself to find it again. If you found it in a cookbook, you could either stick a post-it note on the page or make a scanned copy of the page to print out.
It can help to compile all of your bariatric recipes for one in the same place, like a designated binder with dividers for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. That way, you can easily flip through and find something you already know is healthy, easy, and satisfying. Make any notes about substitutions, alternations, or pairings on the recipe so you remember the next time you make it.
Cooking for one can become boring or lonely. Finding the social support you need can make all the difference. This might look like joining an online community like my private Facebook group, getting involved with a local weight loss community, or taking a bariatric cooking class to meet others in the same position.
Having others who can relate is incredibly useful. You can bounce ideas off of each other, share recipes and meal tips, or even cook together if you’re local. If you need individualized professional guidance for getting started with cooking for one, I can help.
Experiment with your muffin tin.
Muffins tins aren’t just for baked goods and breads. These are a great kitchen tool to help you make recipes that cook pre-divided into individual servings. You might mix up a recipe in one large bowl and then divide it into the tins to cook, or you could gather your ingredients to assemble in each tin individually. They are also a useful tool for freezing. Some meals that work well this way are mini frittata’s and mini meatloaves.
Pull out your slow cooker.
A slow cooker, or even just a large pot on the stove, are all great ways to make “one-pot” meals. These types of meals can help save time by allowing you to essentially throw everything into one pot and let it cook for a while on a low heat. This is also a good way to make a large portion that can then be divided into individual meals for later.
Adjust recipes as needed.
Depending on the dietary stage you’re in after weight loss surgery, you may need to alter the texture and consistency of the foods you’re eating. Don’t let this overwhelm you, as many recipes can be tweaked to the appropriate texture.
Most recipes usually call for one pound of meat. This cooks down to about four, three oz portions. You can either meal prep four meals at a time or half the recipe and use it for two meals.
7 Healthy Bariatric Recipes for One
Now that you have some ideas for how to make cooking for one a little easier, I want to share some nutrient-dense bariatric recipes that you might enjoy trying.
These breakfast bowls are easy to make and easy to take with you on the go. It’s a great example of how you can use small mason jars to prep individual servings of meals that can last you several days. This particular recipe uses eggs and black beans for protein, topped with salsa, cheese, and cooked spinach.
This recipe can be made in a large batch like traditional cookies, and then portioned out into individual servings to enjoy on different days. They’re packed with nutrients, using almond flour, coconut oil, flax seed, blueberries, egg, and zucchini, with the addition of protein powder. You can also freeze these for later in the month.
This is a great one-pot, large-batch meal that can be made and frozen into individual servings to enjoy later. Freeze it in muffin containers or ice cube trays depending how big your portions are.
It incorporates squash with a creamy almond base and unflavored protein powder. I like this recipe because it can also be altered easily. For example, if you’re fighting post-op nausea, you can add ginger to it. The texture can also be changed depending on what dietary stage you’re in.
If you’re meal prepping ahead of time, I suggest not adding the protein powder until you are about to serve it. Remember, don’t add the protein powder until it reaches less than 140 F.
This one is the easiest bariatric recipe for one and can be made using a coffee mug. Using cauliflower rice, tomato sauce, and cheese, this is a perfect go-to for the days when you want something easy and only want to make one serving.
This is a great recipe that can be easily adjusted to serve one. The Baja sauce is what gives this dish a lot of flavor. It combines cottage cheese, yogurt, lime juice and cumin for a tangy flavor. The whole recipe takes 15 minutes or less to make.
I suggest preparing the entire batch of Baja sauce so you have it on hand. Then prepare only 4-6 oz of shrimp if cooking for one.
I love this soup and it’s perfect for any stage after weight loss surgery. It utilizes Unjury Chicken Soup Flavor protein powder to provide a significant amount of protein. Then I added an egg and extra spinach for a nutrient boost. If in the pureed stage this will need to be blended before eating. This is a one serving portion providing 20 g protein.
These ricotta bake muffins are a modern twist on the traditional ricotta bake. This recipe is prepared in a muffin tin container so each serving is portion sized out. You can prepare a batch on the weekend and eat them throughout the week or freeze them for later. If you’re freezing them then add the sauce before serving.
If you’re looking for more recipe ideas please check out my meal plans. It’s created for 1-2 people and includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks with a suggested meal prep schedule.
If you found this article helpful please share with with other post ops who are looking for ideas.